Conexpo sets the machinery standard

Image courtesy of Conexpo.

Over four days CONEXPO-CON/AGG saw 130,000 registered attendees, 3200 exhibitors and 2.7 million square feet of exhibits, giving the construction industry a glimpse into the machines of the future.

Once every three years, CONEXPO-CON/AGG in Las Vegas quickly becomes the centre of the construction equipment universe.

Las Vegas is one of the ultimate locations to put on a show and that is exactly what all of the world’s leading construction equipment manufacturers and suppliers did.

The construction and aggregate industries came together from all corners of the globe to showcase the latest, equipment, technology, initiatives and advancements.

The ability for technology to enhance machines and performance outcomes was at the centre of the construction equipment extravaganza that is CONEXPO-CON/AGG.

With major themes such as automation, enhanced performance and environmental contribution, the industry’s big players had the chance to present the culmination of years of innovation.

The Roads & Infrastructure Magazine team covered 27,000 steps per day, ensuring they could see and experience all the exhibition had to offer.

While the team took many small steps, the industry demonstrated its ability to take giant leaps into the future.

In releasing a new line-up of products Kevin Very, Director of Technology and Product Marketing at John Deere Construction and Forestry, said the construction industry is rapidly changing, and technology is a driving factor in this evolution.

“The right technology impacts how a customer bids a job, manages their fleet, assists with operator recruitment and retention, and ultimately improves overall profitability,” Mr. Very said.

“Technology development is changing the construction industry, and we are continuing to accelerate our technology innovation across equipment and job sites.”

Automation Simplified

Topcon, a major surveying technology manufacturer, opened its conference presentation with the help of Irish Formula 3 driver James Roe Jr. He explained the importance of road resurfacing technology for smoother and faster racing.

Mr. Roe said he can recall how difficult it was to drive at the Silverstone racetrack in the UK before it was resurfaced in 2019 using Topcon’s Smooth Ride system.

“There were huge amounts of standing water building up after heavy rainfall that wasn’t draining off… races had to be postponed or cancelled, affecting the whole event.

“The technology is a state-of-the-art product that will benefit the motorsports industry from both a safety and performance point of view,” Mr. Roe said.

On the back of his presentation, Topcon Positioning Group announced a suite of advancements to its portfolio of machine control systems. These advancements are designed to provide contractors with better performance and profitability in earthmoving applications.

One announcement included the advanced tilt rotator functionality for the Automatic Excavator system, which will allow operators to easily swivel or tilt the bucket with automatic boom control.

Murray Lodge, Topcon’s Senior VP of Construction, said if excavator operators are in scenarios such as at the top of a slope or grading a long incline and not perpendicularly lined up, positioning the cutting edge of the bucket to the surface is simple.

The company also introduced its new ‘bring your own device’ capability. For its small excavator and compact track loader machine controls, android devices can be used as a substitute for control boxes in some applications.

Topcon’s Pocket MC application can be downloaded from the Google store and used from a phone or tablet.

“[It can be used] as a simple entry-level machine controller option for contractors who want an inexpensive way to speed up the productivity of their fleet, or as a backup on the job site to a fully featured controller, so operators are still working and timelines keep moving,” Mr. Lodge said.

The company also released a new cloud-based road paving technology, which can be paired with existing Topcon solutions. The application helps to improve asphalt paving workflow between asphalt plants, delivery trucks, a company’s office and a paving site.

“It is a revolutionary new system connecting every stakeholder in real-time throughout the paving process for more efficient daily job management. It will result in better use of materials, fewer overages and paver stoppages, and overall greater return on investment,” Mr. Lodge said.

As one of America’s largest original equipment manufacturers, John Deere debuted its latest technological advancements at the show, across two levels, adapting to automated processes to streamline works.

The company launched an Advanced Rear Object Detection System that is part of the 944K Hybrid Wheel Loader showcase.

Image courtesy of Conexpo.

The obstacle intelligence solution helps to supplement the wheel loader operator’s situational awareness by identifying objects in close proximity to the equipment.

Alongside an array of machinery such as a compact track loader and crawler dozers, John Deere also showcased two other new technologies, SmartWeigh and SmartAttach.

With strict tolerances on projects it is increasingly important to accurately measure material and technology that can do the job with higher accuracy than manual operations.

SmartWeigh is an integrated weighing system, in development for John Deere’s four-wheel-drive loaders in the near future.

Shared through the touchscreen in-cab monitor, the system enables operators to accurately load material without interruption. SmartWeigh is integrated with the John Deere online platform JDLink to track and visualise payload data, JDLink portal and JDLink Mobile.

This application aims to enable the operator to quickly weigh and track loads, maximising workflow and productivity.

Additionally, the SmartAttach system automatically configures the machine to an attachment.

The technology aims to reduce set-up time, decrease the likelihood of damage due to incorrect settings and help end users get the most out of their attachments.

SmartAttach is also integrated with JDLink via a Bluetooth beacon. Together the technology automatically records the location of attachments and presents that information through JDLink platforms.

Features for diversity

While there were countless machinery releases throughout CONEXPO-CON/AGG, Roads & Infrastructure have compiled some of the most exciting advancements from some of the world’s leading equipment manufacturers.

To continue the trend of world premieres, major equipment manufacturer and supplier Wirtgen Group released its newest cold milling machines, the W220 Fi and the W250 Fi.

The machines provide a maximum milling depth of 350 millimetres, suited for jobs from surface course rehabilitation to fine milling work.

As the range of projects, tolerances and environments around the globe, gets wider this is pushing manufacturers to create unique machinery features to suit a multitude of works.

Through the Wirtgen Group, HAMM released a new generation of pneumatic tyre rollers each for different environments. These were on show at the conference and will replace the existing GRW series worldwide by the end of this year.

There are four different models with two with operating weights between eight and 18 tonnes and another two with operating weights between 10 and 28 tonnes.

The pneumatic tyre rollers will aim to provide individual markets with particular models to suit locally relevant weight classes and equipment variants. The rollers also feature a newly designed water tank to provide extra capacity and enable a full day of work without refilling.

Under the Wirtgen Group’s wing, VÖGELE showcased its new eight-foot paving machines on the Conexpo floor. The SUPER 1700-3i and SUPER 1703-3i feature a front-mounted extending screed and mechanical bolt-on extensions with a maximum extension of nearly six metres.

The machines are designed to counteract thermal and mechanical segregation, using the material hoppers, ascending conveyers and augers, which are hydraulically height-adjustable by 15 centimetres.

The engines featured in the new pavers have an output of 129 kilowatts an hour at 2000 revolutions per minute. They can also work in ECO mode which is sufficient for most applications to reduce noise emissions and fuel consumption.

To accompany its new paving machines and improve data gathering, VÖGELE has released WITOS Paving Docu. WITOS is a software application that allows paving data and delivery notes to be recorded and automates the process of sending out job-site reports.

At a job site, foremen can use a special smartphone app and paver operators the machine terminal to initiate jobs in WITOS Paving Docu and record data such as paving speed, interruptions to paving and effective paving time.

A Liebherr crawler excavator decorated with the American flag.

To increase diversity in its portfolio, another heavy weight in the construction industry, Liebherr, presented a range of new machines.

Andreas Böhm member of the board of directors for Liebherr said at the company’s press conference “In 2019 as with the previous year, construction machinery and mining were our strongest areas. These sectors include earthmoving, tower cranes and concrete equipment.”

This came as a preface to his announcement of the company’s suite of new machinery.

Liebherr’s eighth generation of crawler excavators, revealed at CONEXPO-CON/AGG includes seven different models. Each model uses technology and design to increase the excavator’s efficiency.

Some features for the new generation are greater engine power, tractive forces of the undercarriage and a higher swing torque of the upper carriage for reduced fuel consumption.

Operator comfort is also a focus of the new generation, with suspended pneumatic seats, air-conditioned cabins, touchscreens and retractable windscreens.

Most notably, the new Liebherr Crawler Concrete Pump THS 110 D-K was released. It has a maximum concrete output of around 11 metres squared per hour and is powered by a six-cylinder engine.

As an especially unique feature, when paired with a Liebherr drilling rig, the concrete pump can communicate through radio allowing the operator to control the pumping process from the cabin.

Furthermore, major Chinese equipment manufacturer SANY came to Conexpo with the motto, SANY is taking to the road, and it did not disappoint.

The company debuted its newest motor grader and single drum roller. Both machines aim to provide easier and more affordable options for road construction crews to handle road maintenance and repair works.

This is especially well suited to Australia where the maintenance backlog continues to be an Infrastructure Australia high priority initiative.

The new SANY single drum roller, the SSR120C-8, has a streamlined design that aims to be easy to learn so that new workers can pick up jobs easily.

Noah Thomas VanOosterhout, Road Product Manager at SANY said rollers are simple machines and the new SANY rollers use top-shelf components like Cummins engines or Rexroth Hydraulics.

“Now we can offer a low-complexity roller that does everything municipalities and contractors need at a fraction of the cost of our competitors,” Mr. VanOosterhout said.

In addition, SANY’s new motor grader, the SMG200C-8, is designed to handle road maintenance and rebuilding work.

SANY announced its family of excavators will grow in 2020, with the two excavator models featured at CONEXPO-CON/AGG being just some of what the company has planned for the year ahead.

Environmentally conscious

As the construction sector across the world looks at its environmental contributions, changes are being made to reduce the impact of machinery.

Companies are continuing to implement practices that use less fuel and increase efficiency all while reducing emissions.

Original equipment manufacturer Caterpillar continues to be a major influencer in the road construction sector and the company presented this show of strength at Conexpo.

In the demonstration arena, Caterpillar’s new 150 AWD motor grader, showed attendees how Caterpillar’s Eco mode which delivers up to 10 per cent greater fuel efficiency. Owning and operating costs are also reduced through new filters and longer service intervals.

The new 150 AWD also had the chance to showcase other features, including an all-wheel drive that assists with traction and manoeuvring, allowing the machine to work in diverse environments.

Delivering machinery with high fuel efficiency while maintaining power and performance is a balance the industry continually works towards. Caterpillar debuted five new wheeled, small, medium and large hydraulic excavators at the conference, each with unique merits.

The new Cat M318 wheeled excavator works to improve operator efficiency by up to 45 per cent and delivers up to 10 per cent lower maintenance costs with longer service intervals.

Caterpillar’s 313 GC model delivers low owning and operating costs through a simple design that is easy to operate. The 315 boasts a 13 per cent larger cab and improved performance with up to 10 per cent more swing torque and up to 14 per cent more drawbar pull.

While releasing a new mix spreader, seismic roller and mini wheeled paver, construction giant Fayat Group also presented a strong focus on environmental features at the conference. These changes are expected to help the company’s machinery meet environmental expectations from around the world. Design features on display at the conference included BOMAG’s ECOSTOP which automatically shuts off the engine after a preset idle time. ECOMODE is also offered to reduce noise and fuel consumption by up to 30 per cent on machines.

Alternative fuel models were an integral part of the BOMAG display.

Three different solutions for the BW 120 tandem vibratory roller were shown including traditional diesel, electric and liquid petroleum gas.

As part of the Fayat group, Dynapac released its new IMIX mixing technology which aims to eliminate temperature issues and material segregation in asphalt. IMIX technology is available on the newly launched Dynapac MF2500CS feeder which is known for its high productivity at 4000 tonnes per hour and major fuel reduction.

Image courtesy of Conexpo.

The construction future

CONEXPO-CON/AGG highlighted the industry’s focus on automation, machine efficiency, diversity and reduced environmental impacts as manufacturers work towards better performance outcomes.

CONEXPO-CON/AGG 2020 Show Chairperson Mary Erholtz said in a statement the conference was affectionately referred to as the ‘heavy metal’ show but it is so much more than that.

“It’s also small equipment, education and technology. And that was reflected in every way,” Ms. Erholtz said.

With 3200 exhibitors, CONEXPO-CON/AGG became the ultimate construction show in true Vegas style, shedding a light on leading US and global manufacturers, from multinational giants to small firms with specialised products.

These products are expected to set the standard for construction machinery performance in the years to come.

“Giant machines, incredible exhibits, fantastic education and huge expectations. Organisers of CONEXPO-CON/AGG have a legacy of building and innovating on previous shows, and the 2020 gathering extends that record of success.”

Alongside countless equipment releases the conference itself revealed the world’s largest 3D printed statue to highlight the role women play in construction.

The Tech Experience, tech talks also returned for the second year covering topics such as modern mobility, sustainability and smart cities.

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